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Tube wear detailed at San Onofre, California nuke plant

By Tony Cadwalader | Daily Energy Dump | July 13, 2012

Costs and scrutiny continue to mount

Federal regulators have released the most detailed information to date on damage at California’s idled San Onofre nuclear power plant, according to KFI-AM in Los Angeles reporting an Associated Press story. (Via Drudge)

“Records posted Thursday show the extent of wear in 3,400 tubes that carry radioactive water in the plant’s troubled steam generators. The tube wear caused by vibration and friction was found in 15,000 places at varying degrees of erosion. The report has implications for the fate of the plant shut down since January.”

A fuller version of the story at the AP site said: ”The steam generators, which resemble massive steel fire hydrants, are one of the central pieces of equipment in a nuclear plant. At San Onofre, each one stands 65 feet high, weighs 1.3 million pounds, with 9,727 U-shaped tubes inside, each three-quarters of an inch in diameter.

“The alloy tubes represent a critical safety barrier – if one breaks, there is the potential that radioactivity could escape into the atmosphere. Also, serious leaks can drain protective cooling water from a reactor.

“Gradual wear is common in such tubing, but the rate of erosion at San Onofre startled officials since the equipment is relatively new. The generators were replaced in a $670 million overhaul and began operating in April 2010 in Unit 2 and February 2011 in Unit 3.

“Tubes have to be taken out of service if 35 percent – roughly a third – of the wall wears away, and each of the four generators at the plant is designed to operate with a maximum of 778 retired tubes.

“In one troubled generator in Unit 3, 420 tubes have been retired. The records show another 197 tubes in that generator have between 20 percent and 34 percent wear, meaning they are close to reaching the point when they would be at risk of breaking.

“More than 500 others in that generator have between 10 percent and 19 percent wear in the tube wall.”

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Nuclear Power | , , , , | Comments Off on Tube wear detailed at San Onofre, California nuke plant

The Real Causes—and Real Solutions— to the U.S. Pensions Crisis

By Jack Rasmus | Talking Union | July 3, 2012

A pension crisis of major dimensions is growing in the US across all three forms of defined benefit plans (DBPs)—public, private single employer, and private multi-employer plans.

Corporate America and its political friends have begun to use the economic crisis that commenced in 2007 as an opportunity to initiate and expand yet another offensive aimed at further undermining defined benefit pensions in the U.S. Having already begun in 2009-10 with a new attack by governors on public employees’ pension plans, the Corporate Offensive over the subsequent eighteen months has expanded to include new coordinated attacks on private sector multi-employer and single employer DBPs as well.

Contrary to corporate, press and politicians’ claims, the crisis in pensions has had nothing to do with pension benefit increases for the workers. In many cases pension benefits have been frozen or actually reduced over the past decade and especially so since 2008.

Rather the crisis is directly attributable to government and corporate policies that have been implemented over the past thirty years—including, but not limited to, two decades of government encouraged management practices reducing pension funding, stagnant jobs and wage growth since 2001, massive speculative investment losses by pension funds, the collapse of the economy, jobs, and pension contributions after 2007, and the failure of the US economic recovery to restore jobs and wages the past three years, 2009-12.

Brief Overview of the Pensions Funding Gap

Multi-employer defined benefit pensions in the 1990s averaged shortfalls in funding (i.e. ratio of assets to liabilities) of only a very manageable $30 billion throughout the decade.

A 2009 Report by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, the quasi-government agency responsible for ensuring pension funds stability and solvency in the private sector, had a funding shortfall of $355 billion. A similar scenario applies to ratios and shortfalls in funding for single employer pensions, with funding shortfalls of approximately $407 billion. The highly respected Pew Center’s 2008 estimated public sector pensions gap for 2008 of $452 billion.

But the shortfalls in all the defined benefit pensions are overwhelming the result of economic conditions, government policies, and corporate practices over the past 12 years. In 1999, state public employee pensions were 103% funded, according to the Pew Center. Similarly, private pensions—multi-employer as well as single employer—were in good shape at the beginning of 2000. Whatever has happened is therefore clearly a consequence of events and policies since 2000.

Employers sense an opportunity today to falsify the facts regarding the causes of defined benefit pension shortfalls, and to use that falsification to attack and dismantle what’s left of defined benefit pensions that now cover barely 18% of the workforce compared to three decades ago when the percentage of coverage was two thirds or more. What facts are being conveniently ignored in this new corporate offensive?

Corporate Manipulation of the Pension Funding Gap

Corporations have not hesitated to take advantage of the funding gap that they themselves have largely created, with the help of compliant politicians.

On the multi-employer side, the employer new offensive is evident in a series of banks’ reports claiming the funding gap is even greater than it is. By making extreme low-ball assumptions on returns, banks’ research departments and corporations argue the gap for multi-employer plans is significantly higher than even the PBGC has estimated. Their conclusion is major reductions in pension benefits are therefore required, even though pension benefit payments are not the source of the problem.

This strategy of overestimation of the funding gap, cherry-picking the worst assumptions and then extrapolating the losses in a straight line out for decades, has been adopted as well by governors and state politicians intent on cutting pension benefit payments to resolve a crisis workers did not create.

A typical, extreme case is New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who over-exaggerates an estimated $2.5 trillion funding gap in 2010—i.e. six times greater than that estimated by the respected Pew Center. Christie’s answer to the shortfall in New Jersey is a massive gutting of public employee pension benefits. However, Christie conveniently hides the fact that his state, New Jersey, only made 31% of the required contributions to its employee pension fund in 2009, thus contributing significantly to its relatively low funding ratio of 66%. Like Christie, governors complaining the most about State pension funding gaps are typically those who created those gaps by refusing repeatedly to make the required contributions to their pension funds in the first place.

Single Employer Pension funds are also under a similar direct attack, exemplified by the latest efforts of American Airlines to project massive losses in its fund as a way to justify dumping it on the PBGC and thereby shedding $9 billion in contributions it should have made, but didn’t, for decades. American Airlines for decades has been one of the most egregious practicers of ‘pension contribution holidays’, refusing year after year to make legally required contributions to its fund, and thereby ensuring it would be under-funded.

Fundamental Causes of the Pension Funding Crisis

The deterioration in defined benefit pensions over the past decade has had virtually nothing to do with providing more generous benefits for workers. Nor is it the case that workers are retiring in greater numbers all at once. The causes of the pension shortfalls are due to reductions in employer contributions to the pension funds for multiple reasons, to speculative investments gone bad and massive losses in pension funds over the preceding decade, a major collapse in jobs since 2000 due to repeated and protracted recessions, jobless recoveries, and shifting of jobs offshore that have further undermined total pension fund contributions, and government policies since 2008 that have ensured pension fund returns on investment are reduced to below-normal historical rates of return..

The following is a partial summary short list of a dozen true causes of shortfalls in defined benefit pension funding.

  1. Two recessions since 2000 and two bouts of ‘jobless recoveries’ (2002-05 and 2009-12) resulting in sharp reductions in contributions to the funds
  1. Structural unemployment due to offshoring and free trade that has in addition to #1 progressively reduced jobs and therefore contributions, especially in tech and manufacturing industries
  1. Government allowed ‘pension contribution holidays’ that permitted suspension of employer contributions for decades, thus further lowering the contributions base of the funds
  1. Employer manipulation of actuarial assumptions, like phony overstated rates of return and projected hirings that never happen, that covered up the shortfalls
  1. Government rules that allow the diversion of pension funds to cover 20% of rising employer health care insurance costs
  1. De-unionization of the workforce, resulting in employers suspending private pension plan participation for new workers, thus further reducing contributions.
  1. Shift in U.S. job markets to part time and temp ‘contingency’ jobs and workers by tens of millions, who are excluded from participating (and thus contributing) to DBPs
  1. Legislation and court decisions over the past decade that have promoted 401k plans and conversion to ‘Cash Balance Plans’, diverting contributions to what would have been to defined benefit pension funds.
  1. Phony business bankruptcy policies that have permitted easy dumping of pensions on the PBGC, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation that ensures DBPs, encouraging employers to underfund the pensions to create justifications for dumping the pensions.
  1. Easing of restrictions allowing companies to leave multi-employer plans and for single employers exiting the PBGC
  1. Pension Protection Act of 2006 that allowed pension funds to partner with high-risk speculators like hedge funds, resulting in pension funds’ headlong rush into speculative investing in subprime mortgages and other high risk real estate and financial markets, the consequence of which was massive fund losses in 2000-02 and again in 2008-12.
  1. Low rates of return in general over the last decade on investments by pension funds, attributable largely to the protracted recession since 2008 and, even more so, to the Federal Reserve Bank’s still continuing policy of zero interest rates for four consecutive years.

Fundamental Solutions to the Pension Crisis

Pension funds are financial institutions. They perform much like commercial banks by lending to other non-financial institutions.

In 2008-09, the Federal Reserve bailed out the banks to the tune of $9 trillion by providing zero interest loans to banks for the past four years. The Fed also bought up bonds, especially mortgage notes, from the banks at their full value instead of their real depressed market values, thus further directly subsidizing the banks. The Fed in this manner not only bailed out banks and investment banks, but big conglomerates like GE and GM and their credit arms. So why shouldn’t it similarly provide assistance to financial institutions like the pension funds?

Given that the real causes of current pension fund shortfalls are: insufficient contributions by employers, bad investments by fund managers as a result of high risk speculation and losses, government rules allowing the undermining of pensions, and poor rates of return on investments by funds due to government economic policies since 2000—real solutions to the crisis should tackle the real causes.

Therefore, Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve should:

  • Provide short term 2 to 5 year bridge loans as needed to pension funds temporarily whose funding falls below 70%–i.e. funding provided at the same rate the Federal Reserve has been bailing out banks for the past four years, at a rate of 0.25% interest.
  • Allow pension funds to issue their own bonds, much like corporations now issue bonds, and the Fed purchase those bonds long term, 10 and 30 years, to provide additional funding as necessary to pension funds.
  • Prohibit pension funds from partnering in investments with hedge funds and other high risk financial institutions and financial instruments.
  • Cities and local municipalities should be reimbursed for losses due to banks’ fraudulent and false promotion of derivatives and interest rate swap deals of the last decade, just as other institutional investors have been reimbursed for fraudulent subprime mortgages deals of recent years.
  • Pension funding contribution holidays should be legally banned. Diversion of pension funds’ resources to subsidize employer health plans should be further prohibited.
  • Corporate bankruptcy laws should be amended to prevent dumping of single employer plans. All non-pension assets in bankruptcy should be ruled subordinate to pension assets, requiring all other assets disposed of before pension funds are considered.
  • Restrictions on employers exiting from multi-employer plans and from the PBGC should be strengthened.
  • Public employee plans’ spending on consultants should be limited by law to no more than 1% of annual contribution levels.
  • Employers should be prohibited from exempting ‘contingent’ workers from participation in plans, and should be required make pension fund contributions for all part time and temporary workers proportional to their total hours worked.
  • Restore jobs and wage growth. The most important long run source of restoration of pension fund solvency is the creation of jobs at an historically acceptable rate.
  • A sustained economic recovery—not the current ‘stop-go’ economy—that would raise rates of return on normal pension fund investments to restore losses of recent years

The crisis in Defined Benefit Plans is a crisis that has been brewing for decades, but that has appreciably worsened since 2000 and significantly further deteriorated after 2007. It is a crisis of falling and insufficient contributions fundamentally and not a crisis of excess liabilities or benefit payments to workers. Employers, both private and public, are now using the crisis they created that reduced contributions for decades to attack benefits. Fundamental solutions to the pension funding problems in DBPs must rectify the source problems on the contributions side of the fund ledger.

 Jack Rasmus is the author of the April 2012 book, “Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few”, published by Pluto Books and Palgrave-Macmillan, which includes a final chapter on ‘An Alternative Program for Economic Recovery’.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Real Causes—and Real Solutions— to the U.S. Pensions Crisis

Pensions Under Attack

By MARK VORPAHL | CounterPunch | July 13, 2012

On Friday, July 6, President Obama signed into law a bill that would renew transportation programs and extend low interest rates on student loans for one year. While this minimal gesture resulted in, no doubt, sighs of relief from those burdened by student debt, tucked away within the bill’s pages was a little-noticed proposal to further erode the funding of workers’ pensions. The bill was a brilliant sleight of hand where what it appeared to be giving with one hand distracted the public from what it was taking away with the other.

Aside from the more publicly known parts of this bill, it also reduced the amount that corporations pay into an already grossly underfunded pension system. The way it achieved this is with a complex equation factoring in interest rates, changes in how businesses calculate what they must contribute to retirement premiums, and how these contributions are tax deductible. The end result of this opaque process of number crunching is that, according to the Society of Actuaries, employer pension contributions will be reduced overall from a mandatory $80 billion to $45 billion this year alone. Next year this amount will be slashed by $73 billion. (1)

While the amount of company pension contributions would increase afterwards, there is no guarantee that this can be counted on to make up for the short-term cuts. Without a fundamental change in the political climate, it can be assumed that this distant increase will be reversed.

Some have said that these employer pension payment deductions will not amount to much given the $1.9 trillion employers have already invested into these plans over the decades. Yet the political importance of this bill cannot be calculated by arithmetic alone. It is another example of a pattern of how politicians have enabled corporations to minimize their responsibility towards their employees’ pensions to the point where the entire system is in danger and the dream of a comfortable retirement is approaching collapse.

How far has the pension system fallen into disrepair? According to The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), the quasi-government agency responsible for retirement funds, the public employees pension was being funded at 103 percent in 1999. The pension funds for the private sector were likewise robust.

By 2008, according to the Pew Center, the public sector pensions were short $452 billion. By 2009 the PBGC reported a funding shortfall of $355 billion and a shortfall of $407 billion for “single employer pensions.”

Why this dramatic change? The corporations, their politicians, and media lay the blame on growing pension costs (though many have been frozen) and an increased number of workers retiring. This is turning the reasons behind the pension system’s shortfall on its head. Fundamentally, the reason for the growing threats to retirement is corporate greed, backed up by their political power, as well as the effects of the economic crisis.

There are numerous examples of how big business and their two parties, the Democrats and Republicans, have colluded to erode their legal responsibility to fund pensions. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 enabled pension funds to partner with high-risk speculators, resulting in massive loses to the system in 2008-2010. Corporations have been allowed to declare phony bankruptcies in order to dump their pensions on the PBGC. They are also allowed to divert funds that should go into pension funds towards covering health care costs as well as buying back company stocks and making dividend payouts to stockholders. The list could go on for the ways the political system lets the corporations off the hook at the cost of threatening workers’ retirement. The effect of these measures is to starve the pension system in order to fatten corporate profits.

In addition, the Great Recession has also had a debilitating effect on pension funding. A jobless recovery means fewer workers able to contribute. If corporations were adequately taxed on the trillions they are hoarding to finance a real jobs program, this would not be a problem. Instead, the corporations and their politicians are pursuing the opposite course. They are using the bad economy to justify making the problem worse by cutting away at company obligations to their workers and their pensions.

The provision of the bill Obama signed into law on July 6th regarding pension funding demonstrates the bipartisan priorities geared towards benefiting corporations at the expense of workers. The public justification for this scheme is that the economy is bad and it wouldn’t help workers if these companies went broke as a result of trying to cover the pension shortfalls.

This is a variation of the same line of argument used to justify all austerity measures. Playing on the assumption of common cause between the economic elite and workers, corporations plead poverty and sermonize on the need for “shared sacrifice.” The truth, however, is that big business isn’t broke. There is plenty of money to assure a comfortable retirement for all workers, not to mention universal health care, social security, and full employment. The problem isn’t fiscal, it’s political. The corporations do not want to pay their fair share, and they own the political system.

Solutions to the pension crisis will not be found within the Democratic or Republican Parties. It will take the force of an independent social movement to make the rich pay. Such a social movement could start with the demands of “Jobs – Not Cuts” “Tax the Rich.” From this starting point, it could mature to take on other issues that unite workers such as a solution to the pension crisis.

What kind of solution could be proposed? A demand that a mass movement can get behind. In order for this to happen the demand would have to solve the crisis, be easily understood to inspire, and make a clear demarcation between the interests of the 99% and 1%. To do this a social movement around the pension crisis should call on the federal government to takeover pensions with a heavy tax on corporations that would ensure that they are fully funded and fine those who have willfully failed to properly pay into their pension funds. Then we could demand that Social Security be strengthened so that it could gradually replace the precarious pensions offered in both the public and private sectors. But demands around pensions should be linked to the more immediately pressing demand for most workers, namely a massive jobs creation program. In this way working people will be united and in a position to mount a massive campaign.

Mark Vorpahl is an union steward, social justice activist, and writer for Workers’ Action – He can be reached at


(1) “New law gives US companies a break on pensions” by Alan Fram.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pensions Under Attack

Pentagon: ‘Gitmo drugged prisoners for their sake… then interrogated’

RT | July 13, 2012

A recently-released Pentagon report admits to interrogating Guantanamo Bay prisoners after administering mind-altering treatments to them – often forcibly against their will – but stresses it was not done for the purposes of interrogation.

The report by the inspector general of the US Department of Defense obtained by under the Freedom of Information Act, found that some Gitmo inmates were questioned while receiving prescribed psychoactive treatments.

The Pentagon has tried to justify the facility staff’s actions, saying that “nowhere in the medical records did we find any evidence of mind-altering drugs being administered for the purpose of interrogation,” as the report states on page 13.

“The detainees were not given drugs as a means to facilitate interrogation,” insisted Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

But the report does admit that “certain detainees, diagnosed as having serious mental health conditions being treated with psychoactive medications on a continuing basis, were interrogated.”

The inspector general also notes that “numerous” inmates have complained of being medicated against their will, but adds that wardens have used treatments known as “chemical restraints” to quell the aggressive individuals.

“Some detainees were involuntarily medicated to help control serious mental illnesses,” says a former commander of the Joint Medical Group at Guantanamo.

The report further admits that drugs administered “could impair an individual’s ability to provide accurate information.”

The medication under question, known as Haldol, has been used for over 50 years, and is often administered in psychiatric wards. Several side effects including depression, suicidal behavior and heart attacks are known to exist.

The Pentagon spokesman has refused to comment about how often such substances are used at the detention center, where the US has locked up nearly 170 men, writes the Washington Post.

Being drugged-up changes nothing?

After reviewing the report, David Remes, an attorney of one of the detainees, sounded an alarm saying that there is a vast possibility that statements and evidence obtained from those using psychoactive medication cannot be used in order to justify charging detainees held at the base.

The revelations in the study have raised numerous concerns among human rights activists.

“The inspector general’s report confirms that detainees whose mental deterioration and suffering was so great as to lead to psychosis and attempts at self-harm were given anti-psychotic medication and subjected to further interrogation,” Leonard Rubenstein, a medical ethicist at Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, told

However, some stipulate that evidence obtained through these methods would hold up in court.

Shayana Kadidal, from the Center for Constitutional Rights says that under the system set up by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, any statements detainees made during these interrogations would be presumed accurate “even if detainees took medication that could produce unreliable information.”

Kadidal added that “the burden ends up falling upon the detainee to prove what was said wasn’t accurate if they were challenging their detention in habeas corpus proceedings.”

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pentagon: ‘Gitmo drugged prisoners for their sake… then interrogated’

How We All Became Palestinians – William Cook’s “Decade of Deceit”

By  Gilad Atzmon | July 13, 2012

William A. Cook’s ‘Decade of Deceit’ is a collection of spectacular articles written by a man who has gradually awakened to the disastrous meaning of the Zionification of our universe. Being an authentic and unique poetic voice, Cook manages, layer by layer, to unravel the hypocrisy that has contaminated every aspect of our life – morally, culturally, spiritually and politically.

But Cook is not only a superb poet, he is also an English Professor and it is this synthesis between the aesthetic and the academic that makes this book such a staggering and fascinating spiritual text. It is this unique shift between scientific precision and creative beauty that makes ‘Decade of Deceit’ a must-read.

Collections of articles can be tedious, but sometimes they can also provide us with a glimpse into the workings of a sharp and astute prophetic mind. ‘Decade of Deceit’ introduces us to an ethical thinker and the ways in which he has formed his thoughts about Israel, Palestine, the USA, contemporary politics, and ourselves – the witnesses of our own emerging tragedy.

Cook is a natural wordsmith with the rare capacity to deliver, by way of beauty, a very poignant message. This American English scholar clearly knows how to turn his pen into a sword, yet he aims only at peace, harmony and reconciliation. In December 2002 he writes to Osama Bin Laden “vengeance is a disease that multiplies, divides, and becomes the scourge of humankind; it is anathema to creation because it destroys what exists.” But then, just a few pages later, as hell is about to break loose, we are captivated by Cook’s search for harmony. In March 2003 as America went to war he wrote “I went to the lake to find peace, this being the week the president gave one of his rare prime time press conferences, the only opportunity we, the public, get to see him perform. It’s also the week America goes to war.”

It takes courage to look evil in the eye but it takes even more courage to pose the following questions in free America. “What fuels slavery, ethnic cleansing, land theft, and genocide? What enables a mind to justify imprisoning another without cause, without trial, without rights of due process and assumption of innocence until proven guilty? What enables a soul to accept dominance over another, to degrade and humiliate other humans, to participate in or acquiesce to genocide?” And Cook doesn’t shy away from answering his question:  “Genocides and holocausts arise out of unchecked zeal, unquestioned duty, and silent acquiescence. They are fueled by blind belief, personal fear, and a sense of superiority that gives license to slaughter.” This is clearly an astute reading of both Israeli and American exceptionalism – the combination of fear, superiority and dogmatism are indeed lethal.

As we progress through the text the questions and observations posed by Cook become increasingly crucial.  From 2003 onward, the English-speaking Empire has submissively allowed itself to become an Israeli mission force, the Iraq war being just one obvious example.  In November 2007 Cook writes, “I woke from a dream last night with a sudden start, the world had turned inside out … the sun did not shine, the moon did not come out … darkness enveloped the earth, and all that had been was no more.”….” But the bleak reality in which we live, led Cook to realise that he actually ‘did not wake from that dream’.

“I am living that dream today as I watch the world walk in darkness, befuddled by deceit, desirous to end the violence of these past 60 years, expectant, hopeful, a little fearful that the joy of the season may be marred for themselves and the Palestinians if the conditions of the Zionists are not met even if it means that all of us must accept the will of those who control by force of might and rule in ruthless disregard of any who stand in the way of their desires. The Beast of Hypocrisy walks the streets of Annapolis, it hides its ugliness beneath its cashmere long coat as it enters the conference hall to present in elegant verbiage its compassionate intent that peace might at last come to the mid-east, but in the darkness we do not see the maggots that reside beneath that elegant exterior, the maggots that have eaten away the moral innards of the people that have gathered to deny the people of Palestine the justice they so rightfully deserve.”

We are indeed, day after day, deceived by a system that has been hijacked by a foreign power. In October 2011 Cook discloses his own vision of the current American reality:

“Citizens no longer control their government; they are slaves to it. Representatives no longer serve the citizen seeking their consent to govern, they are servants of the corporations and lobbies that control the economic system to which the citizen is enslaved. Presidents no longer lead, they are the obedient lackeys of their corporate overseers. Freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want do not determine the needs of humans, economics of the market place supersedes all at the expense of the citizen and human rights. We exist in a corporate world of unending wars, of vengeance and recrimination, of fear as a commodity that imprisons the mind, of greed that destroys the resources of this planet without remorse, and of insatiable arrogance that harbors no concern for those it destroys.”

I can only assume that Cook’s journey has led him to realize that, by now, we have all become Palestinians. We are all subjected to that same total abuse that has robbed and distorted each and every precious value that ever made the West worthwhile. So I guess that one possible interpretation of Cook’s work may as well be that solidarity with Palestine should start at home and that unless we liberate ourselves first, there is only little we can offer others.

Gilad Atzmon’s latest book is The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on How We All Became Palestinians – William Cook’s “Decade of Deceit”

MI6 chief hints that US torture of Islamists was to get the ‘right answers’ to suit their propaganda

By Damian Lataan | July 13, 2012

In a UK Telegraph article today, Sir John Sawers, Britain’s head of the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, was reported as telling an audience of public servants that the Americans were so keen to get intelligence after 9/11 that would fit their propaganda that they resorted to torture in order to ‘get the right answer’.
Sawers told the gathering

There’s always a danger that, as a bunch of secret squirrels, you can get involved in something that takes you down a pathway where you end up in the wrong place.

The Americans have done that over their interrogation techniques after 9/11. They got so obsessed with getting a right answer that they drifted into an area that kind of amounted to torture.

One has to wonder what the ‘right answer’ was that they were seeking. Could it be that it was one that fitted in with their version of the events of 9/11? Is this why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to over 180 incidents of waterboarding torture in March 2003 in the course of which he confessed to having been the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks on behalf of al Qaeda?

And, just to tie in al Qaeda with a few other ‘terrorist’ loose ends, was it this obsession with ‘getting the right answer’ that also led to Mohammed confessing also to many other terrorist plots over the last twenty years, including the 1993 World Trade Center  bombings, Operation Bojinka, which was an attempted 2002 attack on the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the Bali nightclub bombings, the attempted blowing up of American Airlines Flight 63, the so-called Millennium Plot, and the murder of Daniel Pearl?

“Obsessed with getting a right answer”?

Aren’t we all!

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on MI6 chief hints that US torture of Islamists was to get the ‘right answers’ to suit their propaganda

Israel Invents Syrian WMD Threat, IDF Commanders Threaten Intervention

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | July 13, 2012

Syria appears to be entering an even more chaotic and dangerous period in its civil war now that Israeli officials are concocting potential threats that must be addressed by Israeli intervention.  The latest series of stories derives from U.S. and Israeli intelligence circles and suggests that Syria has a “vast stockpile” (Wall Street Journal) or “hundreds of tons” (Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News) of chemical weapons that could fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, Iran’s ayatollahs or God knows who, should Bashar al-Assad’s regime fall.  Naturally, Israel would have to protect its interests and intervene to prevent this from happening:

Hundreds of tonnes of Syria’s stockpile of deadly nerve gas could fall into the hands of terrorist groups if the regime of Bashar al-Assad falls apart amid widening concerns that Israel could go to war to try to stop this ‘Doomsday threat‘.

The fact that this would give Israel a further opportunity to tweak its Iranian enemy and ensure the installation of a pro-Israel puppet regime in Syria would of course be entirely incidental and unintentional.

The Sky News report in particular seems to be pure garbage, claiming to know the locations of all chemical warfare labs in the country plus additional storage sites.  The report provides no attribution or source, not even an anonymous one.  According to Sky, Al Qaeda is not only active in Syria, but has specifically told its member to get their hands on chemical weapons.  Again no quotations or source offered to bolster the claim.  To hear Sky tell it, missiles filled with Sarin and other potent nerve gases are sitting on launching pads waiting either for Assad to launch them or for the rebels to get their fingers on the button.  And of course the rockets can hit “any location in Israel,” the required hysteria inducing phrase harkening back to Saddam’s SCUDs and other visions of Zionist apocalypse.

Here is former Mossad chief Danny Yatom nicely hitting all the grace notes of hasbara interventionism :

Israel is deeply concerned that Assad may deliberately give Hezbollah chemical weapons – or that they could end up in the hands of other terror groups. In either case, this could lead to a regional war, Danny Yatom, the former head of Mossad warned.

“The conventional wisdom should be that we cannot exclude a non-conventional attack on Israel. We would have to pre-empt in order to prevent it. We need to be prepared to launch even military attacks… and military attacks mean maybe a deterioration to war,” he told Sky News.

Though on its face, Yatom is advocating for Israeli intervention, it’s also possible he’s playing the not so subtle game of pressuring the U.S. and its allies to act by threatening to act if they don’t do so first.  The operative thinking would be saying to the Americans: if you don’t do something, we will; since you won’t like how we’ll handle this, you better take care of it yourself.”

Israel seems to be laying down its marker and saying it too has an interest in determining the nature of the next Syrian regime.  Israel will go to very great lengths to ensure it does not have a proto-Iranian regime on its front doorstep, even to the extent of directly intervening.  All of which would be devastating not just for Syria, but for the entire region.  Israeli “intervention” into affairs in Iran, Lebanon and Gaza has greatly destabilized those countries and wreaked general mayhem.  More of this sort of “help” the Middle East does not need.

Here’s more unfounded hysteria on behalf of interventionism:

There are widespread fears that a Gaddafi-style collapse of Syria into chaos, would mean that chemical weapons would spread around the globe.

Yes, of course widespread fears.  So widespread we don’t even have to tell you who specifically is afraid and of what.  People, we’ve seen this movie before and it was a stinker the first time.  Do we need to see it again to know just how bad the sequel is?  The original was called Bush Brings You Iraqi WMD.  Remember those mushrooms clouds Condi Rice pictured for your visual delectation?  Isn’t it a bit like having déjà vu all over again, to paraphrase Yogi Berra?

No less a Hero of Zion than Yair Naveh, IDF deputy chief of staff, is also getting into the act:

Major general Yair Naveh, the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Force, recently warned a private congregation at a Jerusalem synagogue that Syria’s chemical weapons posed a mortal threat to the Jewish State.

“As for Syria, we all hear the news … (if)  Syrians … behave this way to their people it is clear … how they will behave towards us – to our sons – when they get the opportunity against us, with the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the world, with missiles and rockets that cover all of Israel”.

Naveh is also quoted more extensively in this AFP article.  If the name sounds familiar, this is the same Yair Naveh who ordered the execution of unarmed Palestinians in contravention of Israeli Supreme Court rulings.  News of which was leaked by Anat Kamm to Uri Blau, all of which landed both of them in court (and her in prison), while Naveh earned a promotion for his trouble.

Though the WSJ is also a Murdoch media trophy, it has slightly higher standards and actually notes how problematic this entire issue can be:

Because of the faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the Iraq war, U.S. officials are extremely cautious about using reports of Mr. Assad’s chemical stockpiles to support military intervention.

But note that this is precisely what the WSJ, Sky, and similar media reports are doing: ratcheting up pressure for regime change.  The war hawk camp in the Obama administration makes no bones about this and beats the drums of war using every available weapon to do so:

“The regime has a plan for ethnic cleansing, and we must come to terms with this,” the first U.S. official said. “There is no diplomatic solution.”

But the statement simply has no basis either in fact or even in fantasy.  But “ethnic cleansing” does have such a nice genocidal ring to it.  Just the thing to rouse the quiescent world from its moral slumber.

Unnamed “opposition leaders” (and you know how reliable those folks have been lately) further buttress the ethnic cleansing meme:

Opposition leaders maintain there are increasing indications that the Damascus regime is trying to cleanse strategic areas, such as Hama and Homs, of Sunnis in order to set up an ethnic state that could be defended by the Assads’ Allawite [sic] ethnic minority.

No word on who these opposition leaders are or what the “increasing indications” specifically are.  Of course not.  What do you expect?  Facts, evidence.  C’mon.

To be clear, I harbor no affection for Assad and his regime.  If there was an effective way to end his rule and guarantee the Syrian people would have a genuine representative government–I’d be all for it.  But as it is, Syria is likely to get a domestic version of Ahmad Chalabi, rather than a real Syrian nationalist patriot to run its government.  At least, that’s what I fear will happen if the west and Israel try to cast their typical spell on the country, bringing the “birth pangs of a new Middle East” as Israel did to Lebanon in 2006 (remember Condi’s infamous line?).

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian rebels aim to use chemical weapons, blame Damascus – report

RT | June 10, 2012

The armed Syrian opposition has got their hands on chemical weapons, which they acquired from Libya, a media report claims. They allegedly plan to use it against civilians and pin the atrocity on the Bashar al-Assad regime.

­The report by DamPress claims the opposition group in possession of the weapons is being trained in its use inside Turkey. No further detail on the alleged conspiracy is given.

The Libyan stockpile of chemical weapons was a matter of great concern during last year’s civil war in the country. There were fears that they may end up in the hands of the terrorists and used elsewhere in the world. However unlike Libya’s portable surface-to-air arsenal, no reports of the weapons going missing was made public.

Syria has a greater number of chemical weapons than Libya. Military experts say the agents in the Syrian stockpile is also more modern that what Gaddafi had produced for his military. Syria also didn’t join the Chemical Weapons Convention and is not obliged to declare what chemical weapons it possesses.

The chemical framing plot allegations come days after British journalist Alex Thomson from Channel 4 news accused a Syrian opposition group of trying to set him and his crew up to be killed by government forces. He said a western journalist death would give bad publicity for Damascus.

Syria is sliding back into violence after a UN-brokered peace plan failed to bring the rival forces in the country to negotiation table. The worst of the incidents of renewed bloodshed were two massacres of civilians in the villages of Houla and al-Qubair.

Opposition blame the killings on pro-government paramilitary forces, while Damascus says both incidents were provocations carried out by terrorist groups. The UN observer mission currently deployed in Syria failed to establish for certain who committed the atrocities.

The conflict in Syria has been raging for 15 months now, with the exact death toll difficult to establish. UN estimates that about 10,000 people have been killed in the violence.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | Comments Off on Syrian rebels aim to use chemical weapons, blame Damascus – report

Syria: Terrorists Commit Al-Treimsa Massacre

Al-Manar | July 13, 2012

Dozens of civilians were killed and wounded when terrorists overran the village of al-Treimsa in Hama Countryside yesterday, SANA news agency reported.

“The terrorists, according to eye witnesses who appeared on Syrian TV to narrate the reality of events on the ground, ransacked, destroyed and burned scores of the village houses before the competent authorities arrived to the village,” SANA said.

Abo Arif al-Khalid, an eye witness from the targeted village, stated in a phone call to Syrian TV, that the village of al-Treimsa lived a nightmare when armed terrorist groups attacked it and opened random fire on its inhabitants and houses, killing more than 50 persons, and exploding houses, among which was the house of his cousin, it added.

A woman and her child were killed by the terrorists before the eyes of all the people there, added Abo Arif al-Khalid, regretting the absence of the Syrian Army or security personnel from the village.

”Had the Army or security personnel existed in the village, the terrorists wouldn’t have been able to overrun the village and perpetrate their massacres,” cried al-Khalid.

The security units, in response to al-Treimsa inhabitants’ pleas, clashed with the terrorists, inflicting massive losses upon them, capturing scores of them, confiscating their weapons, among which were Israeli-made machineguns, SANA revealed.

Three security personnel were martyred during the clashes, according to SANA reporter in Hama.

Meanwhile, an information source cited by SANA blasted the news circulated by some bloody media outlets, like al-Jazeera and al-Arabyia, as a bid to manipulate public opinion against Syria and its people and to bring foreign intervention in Syria on the eve of a UN Security Council session.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Comments Off on Syria: Terrorists Commit Al-Treimsa Massacre